I’ll always remember how Bingo would say that Keith Hufnagel was his favourite skater and how this was reflected in what Bing would order for the shop – on numerous occasions only asking for Huf boards in his orders. I’ll admit, as a fan of tranny skating I only really got what he was on about a little later as there are only a few street skaters in my personal top ten. On Bing’s advice I rinsed Huf’s back catalogue and I began to see why the big man liked him so much: it was all about style and power – nothing flashy, just pure street skating. If you haven’t already, just go back and watch his incredible section on Real’s ‘Non Fiction’ and you will see what I mean!
And so that leads me onto why I ended up tagging onto the two-day UK leg of the HUF Stoops tour. Mr. Hufnagel has been running his eponymous HUF brand for a good while now and from its somewhat humble beginnings, it has grown into an unstoppable force with its footwear division now boasting a roster to rival that of any other brand: names like Kevin Terpening, Peter Ramondetta, Austyn Gillette and Dylan Rieder are guaranteed to dampen the undies of skate fans and fashion types alike, and they didn’t disappoint with the air around Southbank as thick with the musty fragrance of excitement, as it was with dudes filming on fishing rods and hot young things repping weed socks.
My good pal Jed Cullen gets flowed HUF footwear through the UK distributor and was eager to get in the mix so I used him as an excuse to bully my way out of the Shiner office to shoot some photos and hang out with the team. Basically I knew I had to at least say hello to Keith on our dearly departed friend’s behalf as I’m sure if Bingo was still with us he would’ve definitely been there fanning out: plus everyone and their nan loves a well-presented pair of Plant Life socks, don't they?
Are you able to witness how skateboarding culture differs from country to country on a trip like this?
The most important thing I think you get to see on these kinds of trips is that kids are still very much influenced by skateboarding culture. That seems to be the same no matter where you go.
What did you think to the turnout on the UK stops for the tour?
The turnouts were really good; lots of kids came out to the events. It's funny, you always hear of the UK being such a grey place, but every time I’ve been there the weather’s always been nice. Maybe somebody’s lying, (laughing)…
Do you know much about the place in terms of its skate heritage?
I know it's a very popular spot in England with a lot of history to it.
The tour started shortly after you joined HUF, did going on such a big trip straight away help you get to know the other guys?
I knew most of the dudes before joining to be honest. Terps and I road for Workshop and Gravis together and I’d skated with most of the team before getting on.
What was it about HUF that made you choose that direction?
HUF was the only direction I wanted to go in. It wasn’t a case of choosing.
You can’t be blind to the multiple Dylan clones materialising via the Internet; do you find it weird when people try to bite your look or imitate your style?
It's very flattering.
Arnie Stein must be your favourite though, right? That guy put in some serious effort and Method acting technique on his rendition of you – you must’ve been secretly impressed by level of immersion – even if it was simultaneously quite disturbing…
Whatever gets kids off you know…
Did you get any hassle at any of the demos, or get asked any particularly stupid questions?
Everyone was very kind at Southbank and everywhere we went really.
From your exalted position - who rocked all white the best and why, between Templeton, Rowley and Heath?
Heath always looks good in photos: All white, all black, whatever. He's Heath Kirchart.
What impression did you get of the UK skate scene from your visit?
I was only there for two days, but from what I gathered it seemed like you guys have got a good thing going.
Were you expecting so many people to turn up for the Southbank demo? It must’ve been a bit of a trip to see a public area in the centre of London get taken over like that…
We didn't really expect too many people to show up to any of the demos so it was rad, especially at Southbank. It was amazing to see so many people so passionate about supporting the Save Southbank campaign too.
What’s your take on the current situation as regards Southbank and the skater-led attempts to save it from redevelopment? Is it a spot that you were already familiar with?
I've never skated there before, but I'm familiar with it to the extent of seeing it in videos. I would say more power to the local skaters as far as saving the spot.
Are any of the iconic street spots that you grew up skating/watching on video still around? Or have they all fallen foul to skate stoppers or redevelopment?
It's inevitable for skate spots in LA to be skate stopped or destroyed, so I guess you get used to it.
Palace Skateboards are synonymous with Southbank and you just did a demo there, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least ask if you saw the PWBC news clip that you featured in. What did you think of it?
Who's the PWBC?
Dylan and Austyn are often paired together when people now speak about HUF. The addition of this duo to the team was rightly seen as a power move within the skate industry, and happily I’m able to report that they genuinely are as close as their joint press release seemed to suggest. Throughout the tour they sat together, dressed similarly and pretty much hung out all the time - even heading off together to go shopping instead of hitting the streets of Manchester. With that said however, they turned up to the signing, which was as much hard work as getting clips and photos together as Dylan and Austyn were the ones that most of the kids had come to see.
Another reminder of them being cut from a different cloth came on the morning that they were leaving Manchester.
Whilst everyone else loaded the standard hold alls and wheelie bags into the tour van, these two clutched the kind of bags that you would expect to see carried by catwalk models.
Although saying that, my knowledge of fashion in general is fairly minimal, and my knowledge of contemporary moves within luggage fashion even more minimal, so perhaps I’m wrong. Handbags aside however, when we rolled up to Southbank, these two most certainly handled business, much to the delight of the huddled masses Instagramming like their lives depended on it.
You appeared in a video for the Long Live Southbank campaign whilst you were over in the UK on this tour so obviously you’re well aware of how OG that place is, but were you expecting so many to people show up for the demo? The place was bursting; it was pretty crazy, even by London standards…
I didn't really know what to expect, but it was rad that it was such a good turn out. I guess it shows how important that spot is to skateboarding if nothing else.
What do you think of when you hear the name Southbank? Are there particular memories or videos that it evokes?
I think the first time I went to the UK was maybe ten years ago and Southbank was the first spot we went to go skate. I didn't know much about it before that but it was my introduction to London skateboarding.
Do you think that spots with the degree of history that that place has, or somewhere like the Brooklyn Banks, or Love Park, or EMB should be recognised as culturally important spaces?
I think they should, but it's hard to make people who aren't familiar with that culture to care or understand that aspect of a skate spot. That could be the way to save this place and others though I suppose.
Did you get to go anywhere on the European tour that you hadn’t visited before?
I had been to all the places before, but I'd say Copenhagen stood out for me.
How did the injection of new blood into the team van change the vibe of this trip?
It was mellow. Everyone got along on the trip.
You come across like a pretty reserved, mellow guy so how was it dealing with inevitable hordes of Dylan stalkers at every demo? Did you get asked about any memorably amusing nonsense?
It was no problem. I can't think of any nonsense.
Peter is man of few words but what he does say is said with a gentle relaxing tone, something that you’re not expecting when you first meet him or when you see him step on a skateboard.
I have always been a fan, but seeing what he is like in the flesh is mind-blowing. He is one of the few who let the skateboarding do the talking: a proper gent.
The whole team were at the end of a long tour so as you can imagine, many were beaten and bruised by the time they hit these shores.
Dan Plunkett has that ‘fire yourself out of a canon’ style; just shredding faster that is needed for those extra crusty Manchester spots we hit up.
Kevin Terpening was the quiet one of the bunch who was happy to be on his own program most of the time. In fact, early that morning before we all met up outside the hotel, I ran into him just skating around by himself down various Manchester back alleys searching out what was in the vicinity.
Raemer’s friend and fellow enjoi rider Ryan Lay is like most other travelling Americans - he loves all things Euro and by his own admission could pass for a European without a problem. How many famous types do you know who could be found happily drinking red wine and eating Brie round the back of a college building waiting on his fellow team mates to kill themselves in the name of fun?
The rest of the team were on the injury/or over-being-on-the-road bench by the UK leg so contributions from the likes of Josh Matthews, Joey Pepper and Brad Cromer were purely shop signing based, which was shame but part of the game.
As for the main man Keith Hufnagel, he doesn't need to jump down any stairs as he's earned his tour stripes a hundred times over by this point. Keith was quite the character and funny too, despite the unavoidable responsibilities of being the tour dad.
In conclusion, through my short time spent on the road with the HUF lot I can safely say that all these guys were super friendly straight off the bat. A lot of teams usually stick to their crew, have in-jokes and only ever interact with the locals when they need something, whereas these guys were introducing themselves and chatting away to all and sundry everywhere we went. It’s just a shame that they where only in the country for a couple of days!